Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has called on the Department of Energy to start the ball rolling on an “independent, unbiased” review of the FracFocus website to determine if it provides sufficient information to state and federal regulators on hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

In a letter to the department Thursday, Wyden asked Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to “enter into an arrangement with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) under which the Academy will carry out an independent examination of FracFocus to determine if the website in its current form provides the information that federal and state agencies need to conduct their regulatory functions associated with hydraulic fracturing.” The NAS is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the government on matters related to science and technology.

“An independent…review of the website is particularly important because FracFocus is currently relied upon by several states, and is being considered by the Department of Interior for public disclosure relating to hydraulic fracturing,” Wyden wrote.

FracFocus is the national registry for operators to report chemicals used in fracking and is managed by the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) and Interstate Oil and Gas Commission (IOGC). FracFocus is being used by a number of states as a means for producers to disclose contents of fluids used in fracking. Colorado, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, North Dakota, Montana, Mississippi, Utah, Ohio and Pennsylvania all require the reporting of fracking fluids to FracFocus

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to incorporate FracFocus into the final rule on fracking that it is developing. In May, it said it is working closely with the GWPC and the IOGC “so that operators may report chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations to BLM through the existing website (see Shale Daily, July 24; May 20).

Wyden has asked that the NAS review focus on several issues, including:

“I believe that such a review by the NAS will be helpful in efforts to ensure that the public has the benefit of effective and full disclosure related to hydraulic fracturing operations,” Wyden said.